Tired of Her Al-Anon Meetings

Q: I met my wife at an Al-Anon meeting. Her father is an alcoholic and I have a brother who has struggled with alcoholism, as well. We have created a beautiful life together. We're married 6 years and yet she still feels the need to attend the meetings at least 3 - 4 times a week. Maybe it has more importance because it's her father and for me just a sibling, but I would like it to be a part of our past and not be carrying it so heavily into our daily lives. Although Al-Anon certainly has helped shape our thinking, I don't want it to have such a presence in our marriage. I feel myself bristling inside when she talks about the meetings. How should I handle this? — Rich, 32

Dr. Susan: I found a study online that discovered that more than half those who attend Al-Anon meetings are married females, and they typically attend for at least as long as your wife (approx. 12 years at time of survey), and they almost all attend at least one meeting a week. Online meetings might be an option for your wife to cut down on the number of in-person meetings so you wouldn't feel so left out. But more importantly, see if you can get her to discuss why it's important to her to attend so many meetings. What is she getting out of them? Are they it helping her deal with her father currently, or to understand her own childhood better, or to feel better about herself generally? Does she envision a time when she would begin to cut down on the number of meetings? Has she ever had a more personalized therapy to help with the issues that are obviously still large in her life? At the very least, you can be honest with her about your not wanting to talk so much about the meetings after she attends them. Seeing a professional a few times might be a better way for her to express what she's getting or not getting in her explorations.

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